I love how history glorifies the badassery of women, especially those in the places and times where women are confined to home-making. This is a rare picture of a female samurai, wearing floral headpiece over a heavy traditional Japanese armor and posing with the intent to kill for honor. This one truly amplified my female hormones.
Her name is Nakano Takeko, one of the female samurais who rose during the Boshin war, and whose photo still remains to remind us of her tale.
Born to a family of samurai in the region of Aizu, Nakano became a defender of the region. Nakano was trained in the martial arts and spent her early adult life as an instructor. Nakano’s family was loyal to the ruling military power, Tokugawa Shogunate. She was one of the real last samurais.
In 1866, the Boshin War began when the Meiji Imperial family sought to regain power over Japan. Nakano made a name for herself during this war, in the Battle of Aizu. Many women helped with war by tending to wounded, making bullets and dousing unexploded, enemy cannon balls. Nakano decided to take a more direct approach. The enemy offered to seize fire, in order to take the women alive, instead Nakano led an attack. The women were secretly armed with Naginata. During the attack, Nakano was shot in the chest. As she lay dying, she asked her sister to behead her. This way, it would not be taken as a trophy and she would not have to live and die in an enemy prison. Her head was buried beneath a tree at Hokaiji Temple.
The 1868 Meiji Restoration returned the Emperor to full power and marked the end of the samurai.